Construction of Calcasieu River Bridge takes a detour

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After the legislature’s House Transportation committee rejected a plan that involved the use of tolls to partially fund a new $2.1 billion I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge, interim State Transportation Secretary Eric Kalivoda said in the meantime they’ll focus on rehabbing the existing bridge.

“Make it last for twenty or thirty more years so we’ll have to spend money on that, and meanwhile what we will do is design the new bridge just like we had planned except we will have to build it in pieces as funding allows,” said Kalivoda.

Kalivoda said it could be decades before a new bridge is funded and constructed. So, the detour to rehabbing the existing bridge versus the previous plan…

“Is that under the public-private partnership the bridge would have been finished in seven years and people would be driving on it in 2031. Now we’re going to go on a pay-as-you-go plan,” said Kalivoda.

As for funding, Kalivoda said there was $800 million lined up for the public-private partnership. Now he said a portion of those funds will go towards the existing bridge.

“And that will cost several hundred million dollars to get that bridge in shape to last so we can keep in service for another twenty or thirty years while we build the new bridge in pieces,” said Kalivoda.

Kalivoda said the legislature set up an annual $40 million revenue stream for the Calcasieu Bridge, which is funded by sales tax from new and used vehicles. He said it will go towards building sections of the new bridge.

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